FanPost

What If the Vikings Actually DID Trade Adrian Peterson?

This post may border on blasphemy here at the Daily Norsemen, but in a true "wildly irresponsible prognostication" I was curious to see what kind of value a player like Adrian Peterson might have in a trade, and if the Vikings were to actually execute such a trade, what could we get in return? I'm not necessarily advocating for a trade of Adrian Peterson, but if the Vikings were to trade Adrian Peterson, what would the roster potentially look like in the aftermath of such a move?

The first question that needs to be answered is, what is Adrian Peterson's value as an older running back in today's NFL? Forgetting the monster in-season trades of the 80s like Eric Dickerson to the Colts or Hershel Walker to the Vikings, we need to look at recent RB trades within the past couple years. Granted, there just hasn't been a player of Peterson's caliber traded at the RB position in recent years, so it's hard to tell. But here is a quick list of the most recent RB trades within the past 3 years:

2013

Trent Richardson to Colts

Browns got a 2014 1st round pick

Felix Jones to Pittsburgh

Cowboys get LB Adrian Robinson

Delone Carter to Baltimore

Colts get WR David Reed

LeGarrette Blount to New England

Bucs get RB Jeff Demps and 2013 7th Round Pick (used it to move up in the 6th for RB Mike James)

Chris Ivory to the New York Jets

Saints get 2013 4th round pick (traded it to move up into 3rd for DT John Jenkins)

2012

Tyler Clutts to Houston

Bears get CB Sherrick McManis

Chris Gronkowski to Denver

Colts received CB Cassius Vaughn

Mike Goodson to Oakland

Panthers received RT Bruce Campbell

2011

Ronnie Brown to Detroit

Eagles get Jerome Harrison and 7th round pick (trade nullified when Harrison couldn't pass physical, but value is noted)

Quinn Johnson to Tennessee

Packers got undisclosed 2012 draft pick (7th rounder?)

Tim Hightower to Redskins

Cardinals got DT Vonnie Holliday and 2012 6th Round Draft Pick (CB Justin Bethel)

Reggie Bush to Dolphins

Saints got a swap of 6th round picks (G Andrew Tiller) and a special teamer (Jonathan Amaya)

Based on this recent list, in my opinion there are only two running back talents that could even be compared slightly to Adrian Peterson (and even then, it's pretty far off): Reggie Bush and Trent Richardson. In the Richardson trade, the Browns got a 1st rounder, but in the Bush trade the Saints only got a swap of picks and a no-name player. That's pretty mediocre compensation for either player. But perhaps looking at unequal RB trades is the wrong angle to take. Instead, we should try to find the most elite, valuable players traded in recent years at other positions. Within the last three years, these are the players I would put on a similar (if not still far off) level as Adrian Peterson:

2013

Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay

Jets get 2013 1st round pick (Sheldon Richardson) and 2014 3rd round pick, conditional

Percy Harvin to Seattle

Vikings got 2013 1st Rounder (Xavier Rhodes), 2013 7th rounder (Travis Bond) and 2014 3rd rounder

2012

Robert Griffin III to Redskins (traded for the right to draft player)

Rams got 2012 1st round pick (Michael Brockers), 2013 1st Round Pick (Alec Ogletree), 2013 2nd Round Pick (Janoris Jenkins) and 2014 1st Round Pick

Brandon Marshall to Chicago

Dolphins got 2012 3rd round pick (used it to move up for TE Michael Egnew) and 2013 3rd round pick (used it to move up for CB Will Davis)

2011

Carson Palmer to Oakland

Bengals got 2012 1st rounder (CB Dre Kirkpatrick) and 2013 2nd rounder (RB Giovanni Bernard)

Generally speaking, this list shows that for truly elite, impact players like Percy Harvin, Brandon Marshall, Carson Palmer or Darrelle Revis, teams can generally expect to get a 1st round pick and then some. In the case of a potentially once in a life-time QB, the Redskins gave up four picks for RGIII, including three 1st round picks! In the case of a running back like Adrian Peterson, not seen since the likes of Barry Sanders, we could expect a little more in a trade than what Harvin, Palmer or Revis got, but probably not on the level of what the RGIII trade netted for the Rams based on the value of the QB position, and the relative youth and upside that the drafting of a rookie can get a team. So, I don't think it would be unreasonable to expect two 1st round picks for Adrian Peterson (2014 and 2015) with maybe another pick or player thrown in as well, and for the sake of argument we'll spitball it and say a 2014 3rd round pick. That would make the trade similar to Harvin and Revis, but with another 1st rounder.

So this off-season plan will assume that Adrian Peterson is traded to a team for a 2014 1st and 3rd round pick and a 2015 1st round pick. We can argue all day long about whether that would be "enough" value for Adrian Peterson, and that really isn't the point of this post. But, it could certainly be debated. Regardless of whether it is enough to make trading Peterson worthwhile, I can't see Peterson being worth much more than that. And as a side-note, as each year passes that level of compensation will only go down from here. Peterson will never be more valuable than he is right now. He's a year removed from a historic 2,000 yard, MVP season. He's 28 years old. His value to any team (including Minnesota) is at its highest peak right now and will only go down from here on out.

Finding a trading partner would be the most difficult thing, but is also largely irrelevant for this off-season plan. If we look at teams that are hurting at RB, the Dallas Cowboys come to mind, as do the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Bucs. Any of these teams might potentially be interested. But again, it doesn't matter which team is potentially interested. This speculative post assumes he is traded to "Team X". We also have a long list of free agents for 2014, so I'll start with those in this off-season plan.

-Jared Allen UFA, cut

-Matt Cassel UFA, cut

-Josh Freeman UFA, re-signed

-J'Marcus Webb UFA, re-signed

-Matt Asiata ERFA, re-signed

-Joe Berger UFA, cut

-Desmond Bishop UFA, cut

-Chris Cook UFA, re-signed

-Larry Dean UFA, cut

-Fred Evans UFA, re-signed

-Bobby Felder ERFA, cut

-Toby Gerhart UFA, re-signed

-Everson Griffen UFA, re-signed

-A.J. Jefferson UFA, cut

-Charlie Johnson UFA, cut

-Marcus Sherels RFA, re-signed

-Jerome Simpson UFA, re-signed

-Joe Webb UFA, cut

-Kevin Williams UFA, cut

Those cuts would free up roughly $36 Million dollars in cap space. Granted, we'd have to extend Josh Freeman, J'Marcus Webb, Matt Asiata, Chris Cook, Fred Evans, Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffin, Marcus Sherels and Jerome Simpson. And those guys will want to get paid more than they're making now. In the case of Sherels, Asiata, Evans and Webb, their contracts wouldn't escalate much. But Josh Freeman, Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and Everson Griffin will all want dramatically more money than they're making now. In terms of cap hits, we should be able to extend them all for a rough estimate (spit-balling it based on other contracts of similar positions) of $24 Million. That leaves us with $12 Million in cap space. And of course the trade of Adrian Peterson would free up another $13 Million in cap space leaving us with $25 Million total in cap space for other free agents.

In terms of team needs, we pretty sorely need new linebackers, defensive tackles, cornerbacks, offensive guards and maybe even a new safety. Here's a list of impending free agents at those positions for 2014:

G Jon Asamoah, Chiefs

G Matt Slauson, Bears

G Zane Beadles, Broncos

DT Henry Melton, Bears

DT Linval Joseph, Giants

DT Clinton McDonald, Seahawks

ILB Pat Angerer, Colts

ILB Daryl Sharpton, Texans

CB Alterraun Verner, Titans

CB Aqib Talib, Patriots

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Broncos

CB Captain Munnerlyn, Panthers

S Nate Allen, Eagles

S Jarius Byrd, Bills

S Chris Clemmons, Dolphins

S Malcolm Jenkins, Saints

Based on the available free agents, if I were the Vikings, I would make a very strong push for some veteran presence in the secondary. I'd love to get a young guy coming off their rookie deal like Alterraun Verner or Jarius Byrd. Even Nate Allen or Aqib Talib would be viable options, assuming they stay healthy. But pairing those guys with Harrison Smith, Xaiver Rhodes and Chris Cook could really turn the secondary around. Vernor or Talib aren't going to command the level of salary of a guy like Revis, Finnegan or Bailey, but they might be looking for Joe Haden or Charles Tillman kind of money. With our dreadful secondary, I would pay. So, let's assume we get Alterraun Verner for $8 Million/year. And after being very unhappy about the franchise tag in Buffalo, let's also assume we get Jarius Byrd for $10 Million/year (making him the 2nd highest paid safety). I also like Pat Angerer in free agency at ILB. He was drafted by the Colts when they were still running a 4-3, and they are only in their 2nd year under Manusky with the 3-4. It's possible the Colts would want an ILB more suited for the 3-4 than Angerer. I loved Angerer coming out of Iowa when he was a rookie and he has the potential to be a good fit with Greenway, as well as allowing us to move Erin Henderson back to OLB where he is a much better fit. Angerer could be had for $6-7 Million/year. Those three would eat up a significant chunk of space, but the talent level at DT and G aren't the greatest in free agency, so we'd look to the draft for those positions. But those three have the potential to completely turn around the back end of the defense and could collectively eat up $23 of the $25 Million in cap space.

Projecting the draft at this point would be next to impossible, but let's assume we get the best available DT and OG in the 1st round with our 2 first round picks, which according to CBS right now would be DT Louis Nix (Notre Dame) and OG Cyril Richardson (Baylor). We could go BPA after that, with a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round to backup Freeman (Yes, Ponder stays on the team another year for now). We would also have 2 first round picks in 2015 to address a myriad of positions and this off-season plan doesn't even take that into account. But, we'd have a starting roster in 2014 that looked like this:

QB: Josh Freeman

RB: Toby Gerhart

WR: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson

TE: Kyle Rudolph

OL: Kalil, Richardson, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt

DE: Robison, Griffin

DT: Floyd, Nix

LB: Henderson, Angerer, Greenway

CB: Cook, Verner, (Rhodes)

S: Smith, Byrd

Looking at this roster compared to what we have now looks better overall to me. While there is an obvious downgrade from Peterson to Gerhart at RB, is it really that far off? How much impact would it have? Gerhart looked pretty good back in 2011. Granted, the offensive philosophy would have to switch from a run-first mentality to more of a balanced attack, which would work well with Gerhart's bruising, between-the-tackles style of running. And Gerhart has emerged as a capable pass-catching option as well and I firmly believe he is capable of being an every-down "franchise" level running back. But the biggest and most dramatic change would be on defense. Granted, some of that change is facilitated with not retaining Jared Allen and his enormous contract. But trading Peterson also gets rid of the 2nd highest cap hit on the team as well. And it allows us to put that money towards positions that matter more in today's NFL, like quarterback, secondary and defensive end (we're essentially taking Allen's cap hit and splitting it between Robison and Griffin with some left over for other positions). What's even neater about this is that the team still has two 1st round picks in 2015 that they could use on the off-chance that Josh Freeman doesn't work out, or they could reload at WR, DT, or any number of positions that lacked depth.

Thoughts? Is this total insanity or just wildly irresponsible?

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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